How to validate a recruitment agency?

Blog
• Article 5 •
22 March 2022

If you are part of a talent acquisition team, you will probably receive hundreds of emails from recruitment agencies every week. 

If you are in need of some additional help, you might want to work with some of them, but you have no way of knowing which one is a good fit and which isn't. Many companies pick a recruiting agency based on trust alone, and if you are using a success base contract, it's a relatively safe option in terms of capital—the trial and error approach.

Another thing to consider is that the success fee contracts will probably have the lowest priority on the recruiter to-do list because the risk is so high. Instead, they will prioritize clients they worked with before to maintain a healthy relationship and better contracts. 

I am trying to say that it might be a big waste of time to onboard a recruiting agency before actually validating that they are a good fit. 

By not taking the time to validate the recruiting agency, you risk being misrepresented to the potential candidates. This can have the negative effect of damaging the company's image and ruining its reputation for future prospects.    

I will run through the top 5 ways to pick the right recruiting agency.

1 - Validation tools

[Best] [Easy to implement]

Use third-party tools that validate recruiting agencies and track performance metrics of individual recruiters within agencies over time and with several clients.

This will help you understand who you need to talk to directly and avoid a set of coordination meetings/emails. 

beHOP helps you find recruiting agencies that have a proven track record of delivering quality candidates and, at the same time, avoid all the leg work mentioned below. It's like hiring an instant "private investigator"

2 - Shadow referencing

[Good] [Moderate to implement]

Employ your local network to find some companies that worked with the agency you are trying to vet.

Ask for some basic metrics on how well they performed (a fast way to get some basic metrics is by looking at an ATS, most ATS systems have some kind of performance analytics, so ask your reference to share some numbers from there).
 
Granted, not everyone will be tracking performance metrics, but this might help get a non-biased opinion on their performance. Otherwise, a biased opinion is still an excellent way to check a recruiting agency's performance.

This approach will work only if you hire an agency that has close ties to your network/location and/or industry. If you hire an agency outside your network, this will be hard to achieve. 

3 - Ask for references and case studies

[Good] [Hard to implement]

Ask the recruiting agencies to share some previous candidates they helped hire. If the candidate can't praise the recruiting agency for their help, this is a red flag.

Maintaining good relationships with the candidates is one of the primary jobs of a staffing agency. On the other hand, if the candidate has worked several times with the same agency, the agency is great and takes good care of their candidates. 

You can ask for references from previous clients they worked with. All recruiting agencies have a list of happy customers and should happily refer to some of them to you.

Note:

This approach can be biased as they will probably refer to the client with whom they have the best relationships. 


Ask for a selection of case studies to prove their effectiveness in the particular industry and field

Note:

If an agency can't provide references for previous clients or candidates, this is a big red flag. Or they are just starting. 

4 - Google search

[OK] [Hard to implement]

Google search for reviews. The reviews are usually super easy to find, especially if they are bad.

However, most commonly, you will not be able to find anything about that particular agency, especially if they are a relatively small agency. 

Consider contacting some of the people leaving reviews and discussing their experience working with those agencies.

Note:

Keep in mind, ask about specific recruiters within that agency as that might be a big difference in both what candidates and what experience you will have.

Google reviews can be manipulated the same as Trustpilot and other reviewing platforms, so you see a lot of 5 stars without a proper reference to a particular job, that's a red flag.

5 - Looking at their team

[OK] [Moderate to implement]

Another good way to evaluate a recruiting company is to look at their staff. You can use LinkedIn or Glassdoor to check on the recruiting agency's current employees. 

A sign that an agency is doing a good job is that there is employment continuity, employees stay for an extended period of time, and there are internal promotions. 

A great sign that you are working with a good recruiting agency, beyond the obvious, is that they help you discard some of the workloads in various ways. Instead, if you find yourself with an increased workload, they probably need to improve the collaboration process and adapt some of your HR tech stack.

Note:

The first two weeks will be more demanding, as the onboarding process can take some time. We will be writing a blog post about onboarding recruiters, so stay tuned.

At beHOP we have the ambition to help companies find, align, and onboard recruiting agencies worldwide. We want to streamline the process and help you get quality candidates from the global talent pool. 

Have you worked with recruiting agencies before? Share something you've learned over the years. 

Get access to validated recruiting agencies today!